GameBabble – Dynasty Warriors: Why We Love/Hate It

Ever wonder why people love Dynasty Warriors? Ever wonder why people hate it? Today I attempt to answer those questions and more in a 30 minute retrospective analytical blow-out!

…though I admit I was a little mean to Sengoku Basara (WHY CAN’T YOU GET IT RIGHT, CAPCOM?!).

Explore posts in the same categories: Episodes

11 Comments on “GameBabble – Dynasty Warriors: Why We Love/Hate It”

  1. Sleepy Says:

    My first Warriors game was Dynasty Warriors 3. I enjoyed it when I played it with a friend, but not so much by myself. With that said, I think enough time has passed and I’m really looking forward to Hyrule Warriors.

    On the topic of 3D brawlers, if you’ve never played it, I highly recommend checking out The Red Star for the PS2. The game plays like a hybrid of a beat ’em up and a shoot ’em up, giving it a unique play style that, sadly, has never been replicated. The only downsides are: no checkpoints and while there is co-op, you have to start up a completely new file just to play it so you can’t play solo. Also, you can’t switch characters. The game is really cheap too, not even $10 for a used copy.

    • GEL Says:

      *nods* Indeed I’ve got a copy, just never quite considered it a beat ’em up due to it’s hybrid nature.

      And yeah, honestly? Gekido kinda impressed me. I mocked the shit out of it as a kid, but now? You know I stand by my point but this…really isn’t too bad! Glad I bought it!

      XD And yeah enough time has certainly passed. I’m really curious what the new systems for Hyrule Warriors will be that set it apart from the rest of the series. I see the Z-Targetting is in there and I’m hearing musical tones during certain scenes that are raising my eyebrows.

    • Baines Says:

      The Red Star had two major downsides which prevent me from recommending it to people.

      1) It tries to mix a beat’em-up with an overhead shooter. It doesn’t do this smoothly. Within a level, you will play some parts as a beat’em-up, then face a baby bullet hell shooter section. The big problem here is that the player skills required for these two genres are fairly different. It isn’t unusual to get through a beat’em-up section with full life, only to die in three hits to a shooter-based boss.

      2) It grades level completion and gives you money to buy upgrades based on your ranking. The problem is that if you don’t get at least A-rank, you can fall behind on the power curve, finding the game getting increasingly difficult, thus you get low ranks, which means you get less money, which means you can buy fewer upgrades, which means you get low ranks… Then halfway though the game you realize that you hit a wall where you can’t progress anymore, so you start a new save file and this time you keep replaying a stage until you S-Rank it.

      Bonus Issues:
      Some of the upgrades you can buy are kind of junk. I want to recall that you buy gun upgrades sight unseen. Things like the vampirism (heal when dealing damage in melee) sounds nice at first, but it doesn’t work in the shooter sections, and if you need to heal then you must have taken hits which means you are getting a lower rank which means you might as well replay the level anyway. Because of Issue #2 above and because of the cost of upgrades, buying a less useful upgrade can be worse than getting a poor ranking on a stage.

      The mixed genre gameplay also led to a rather lazy invulnerable enemy design, where you run into enemies that can only be damaged by melee or only damaged by guns.

  2. RegalSin Says:

    This like my cup of tea in the morning GEL, GOOD DAY WITH GEL. How is the weather GEL?? Any interesting events in your area??

    Well Gel, your right about 2D-3D, I remember how people would say bs. Like back in HS, this guy would compare Lara Croft in 3d, and would not be able to tell how tall or short she was in real life. Guess what Gel? People are still that naive today. By the time we are 40, kids will have display that are big as their walls.

    Die Hard Arcade, I just purchased this for Saturn recently. I also have the Dreamcast game. You see GEL, the reason why Beat em ups are so nice is because

    Fighting Force……speaking of FF, their was this…Hunter the Reckoning. Both games got Nintendo ports, that had better graphics then the SONY versions, but little things were removed from the games itself. Hunter had a double sequel ( like in the good ole days ), one on the X-box and one on the PS2.

    Gel your basic Beat em up got hi-jacked on the GBA, and thrown the dogs of Commercial games ( like the ones from Disney ). I mean these are just action games but not that.

    They have the best graphics, the most biggest sprites, and many other little things. The only thing better then any Beat em up, is the Fighting game.

    The problem with Beat em ups, is that they have too few lives, and you can not save, and that is why it was an challenge. Also it was only at the arcade. When they brought Beat em ups, home. Many things were removed from the arcades. We can’t really go past the 2D with the Beat Em up, which has been proven with real beat em ups.

    Dynasty Warriors is basically a strat RPG Gel. Only difference they set you up on the map.

    Mystic Warriors ( the GCN version of Dynasty Heroes ).
    GEL a beat em ups is the pinicale of 2d games. Please GEL do not bash 2d.

    GEL this is basically an RPG. A special move button like in
    Secret Of Mana III,


    KOEI is making money off cheapness.

    DYNASTY WARRIORS IS ANOTHER VERSION OF GAUNTLET . You remember that game? Run across the feilds of that. KOEI makes strat games period, that is historical. Yeah looks like Chinese warriors. Right…..KOEI they put a bunch of NPC on display. WHAT ABOUT MYSTIC HEORES ON THE GCN????? We got that instead of Geomon.


    Yeah addiction, I am bashing robots like in PSO. But I am doing it faster, and I am a robot. You remember Gin Gauntlet where the enemies would spawn from the GENERATORS. DW is basically a a version of Gauntlet without wall and towers,

    Gel that flying around is from Chinese/Hong Kong Dramas. I mean it Gel it comes on tv for a long time, a bunch of ancient time dramas that are collected in sets of CD’s. Every episode is a Dynasty warriors

    Gel please do not compare Beat em up to this RPG historical sim. It is too much for me to handle. This is no where like an arcade beat em up, or shoot em up, take “Gunspike” or even other “Revenge of the dead, House of the dead sequel”.

    Mystic Heroes, Mystic Warrirors

  3. Baines Says:

    Dynasty Warriors has had evolution, but Koei:

    1) doesn’t want to upset the money tree. Warriors games already sell, and evolution is risky. Playing it safe guarantees they’ll keep making money. (It doesn’t help that Omega Force is very much a “two steps forward, two steps back” developer.)

    2) realized that they could make more money by continuing to sell expansions.

    In a perfect consumer world, things introduced in the first Xtreme Legends would have been folded into the next base Dynasty Warriors game. Then Koei would have to come up with new ideas to make a new XL. Some of the more tactical aspects of Empires would also have been folded into the base game, while Empires itself could move closer to a 3rd person beat’em-up RoTK strategy game. That never happened, because Koei felt it was safer and more profitable to stick close to formula and to release a new XL and Empires with each game. (Except strangely no Orochi Empires, where they really could have cut loose with a new world that wasn’t tied to a static real world map, historical starting locations, or standard alliances.)


    You also neglected to mention what I think is one of the worse things to happen with Dynasty Warriors of late, the over-importance of scripting.

    Earlier Dynasty Warriors games felt like battles. I believe Koei even has a patent on the Morale system that affects how troops fight across the entire battlefield. Yes, the stages had scripted events. Yes, the battle system broke down at times. (The disconnect between offscreen and onscreen was sometimes quite major, where in one particular game you could stand watching a full health general mow down the enemy without issue, turn your back, and be told in about 30 seconds that the general has been defeated by basic grunts.) But the games felt like they had a flow. Shutting down gates felt like it mattered, because those tides of red and blue moved across the map on their own, even if you did nothing.

    Of late, the scripting has become king. You can see it playing Dynasty Warriors 8. Morale doesn’t seem to mean anything anymore. The battles across the map don’t even seem to mean anything. You stand in a sea of enemy troops, run forward, trigger an event and just see the mass of red behind you just vanish from the map.

    Attempts to mod the PC version of Dynasty Warriors 8 include work on a script viewer for the stages. Events are all on timers or triggered by character positions or the like. In Escape From Luoyang, Lu Bu doesn’t actually fight his way through the doors chasing Cao Cao. There are timers set, and when a timer goes off, the gate is opened and Lu Bu is told to move to the next gate where he waits for the next timer. Ever wonder how Sun Jian and other generals can survive so long at places like Hulao gate if you take your time getting to their involvement in the storyline? They are set invulnerable until you trigger their event.

    There is no “offscreen battle” anymore, because (similar to a linear FPS) the heavy focus on story and events means the game cannot be allowed to play itself in any variable fashion. Unlike older DW games, no emergent behavior or battle development is allowed. You can’t just sit at Hu Lao gate hoping that CPU Lu Bu will kill off the entire opposing army singlehanded for you. You can’t win a difficult Nanman battle by playing Zhuge Liang sitting atop an elephant while remaining near the starting area, after the entire Shu army dies from poison swamps, because the Nanman eventually rush you and die to your attacks. (In a modern DW game, only the enemies in the starting area would approach you, and after they were dead, everything would grind to a halt until you moved forward far enough to trigger the activation of the next bit of “story” and the next set of enemies.)

    • GEL Says:

      Oooh! Good points indeed! I will say other Warriors games have off-screen battles. Gundam especially! Probably the best of the bunch in that regard.

      On the flip side, yeah, the core Dynasty Warriors series has become increasingly story focused for better or for worse. I’m really annoyed at how hard it is to unlock my favorite characters in DW8 (oh EGAD the BS you have to go through to get Zhu Rong!). The story telling HAS improved drastically but I do question if that’s what they SHOULD be focusing on. Thankfully the combat has improved enough that I still LOVE the games (which, as you could tell, was my major focus in the video) but their priorities are sometimes questioned.

      …and Warriors Orochi Empires? Oh EGAD I want that SO BAD. I mean really what I ACTUALLY want is for them to create a new original 100% fictional Warriors game so the plot can actually MOVE FORWARD EPISODICALLY and they have NO restrictions on who or what they can add. ON that note, I just realized of all the characters they’ve added to Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate (Sophitia?! Are we getting Soul Warriors?! PLEASE tell me we’re getting Soul Warriors!) there’s no one from Crimson Sea! C’mon! I mean obviously I want Kecak but I’d still squee for playable Sho! …or Live-D. Why not? I mean, she’s just a mysterious and sexy woman with a slightly lawless aura!

  4. Baines Says:

    Also, for 3D beat’em-ups with a lot of enemies on the screen, no mention of the (highly forgettable) Demon Chaos for the PS2?

    No mention, not even as a joke, of the utterly awful Simple Series Dynasty-Warriors knock-off, Shogun’s Blade (also for the PS2)?

    A bit more surprising, no mention of games like Oneechanbara when talking about 3D beat’em-ups?

    • GEL Says:

      I could NEVER find a US copy of Demon Chaos though I have a Japanese one somewhere. Never played Shogun’s Blade but I DID play the Simple Series Journey to the West Dynasty Warriors. In both cases neither of them were good enough to truly compete with Dynasty Warriors which was the main focus, the SERIOUS attempts to TRY and dethrone Dynasty Warriors.

      As for Oneechanbara? It was post-Dynasty Warriors so I didn’t really think about it.

      • Baines Says:

        I admit that I cheated and used an ISO of Demon Chaos, because I couldn’t find a real copy by the time I bought a PS2 (as I was a rather late PS2 adopter). It was not very impressive. It very much tried to sell itself on the claim that it could display over 65,000 enemies onscreen at once. (65,535, the maximum value of a 16-bit unsigned integer.) It does this in part by making them easily slain punching bags. You think it is boring slogging through hordes of enemies in the worst of a Warriors game? Imagine slogging through a map fully filled with red, mashing the attack button for two minutes straight as you walk around.

        As for Shogun’s Blade, I will simply link to a YouTube video, and make the comment that the video makes the game look much more exciting than I remember the game being.

      • GEL Says:

        XD Oh WOW that looks stiff, slow, and wonky!

        And yeah I remember Demon Chaos pretty darn well. Getting it when it was new in Japan made a huge difference as I was well and truly impressed even if the combat was meh. I think it had some light strategy elements too what with the weird firework thingies you could place.

  5. cormacmacart Says:

    Hi! I left this comment originally on Youtube, but I thought it would make more sense to post it here:

    Your video is a fantastic overview of the series; honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen/read of a rather overlooked franchise. I love how you paint a detailed line from the classic beat em ups to the Musou genre of today. Totally agree with all your points…the Musou games have the main ingredients that a lot of beat em ups from the past had. Thats why a retro gamer like me just fell in love with the genre. I was recently having a debate with someone who argued that the “true” evolution of the beat em up genre was not the Musou genre, but rather modern 3rd person action games inspired by DEVIL MAY CRY, such as GOD OF WAR and NINJA GAIDEN (2004). However I have trouble seeing it like that since those games heavily feature adventure elements like puzzles and platforming, generally only star 1 playable character, and (most importantly) do NOT feature coop play which…as you pointed out…is an essential aspect of the beat em up genre. Although I love the aforementioned games for various reasons, the Musou genre seems a much purer continuation of the beat em up template. Musou games seem to understand how to deliver immediate visceral satisfaction, which seems closer to the nature of classic beat em ups, than a lot of other modern action games. Although I could constantly go on about the many ways they could be improved, they really do take me back to the days of FINAL FIGHT/STREETS OF RAGE in a manner that hardly any other third person action games out there have been able to match. Still…I would like to hear your thoughts on this as well if possible. Thank you for this wonderful retrospective and keep up the good work!

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